Confused about the ‘COVID Normal’ roadmap? Here are the biggest takeaways

Confused about the ‘COVID Normal’ roadmap? Here are the biggest takeaways

Image by Pat Whelen
Words by Tom Parker

There’s a bit to digest.

Yesterday’s announcement was significant for Victorians. While it was transparent and paved the way for some sort of uniform passage out of the current pandemic, it also consolidated a number of undesirable truths.

Unfortunately it appears we’re not where we need to be regarding *that daily number* we’re all too familiar with. So, as we await that very number to drop and drop and drop until it nears zero, we have an intricate rubric to get our heads around.

To help you understand things a little better, here are the biggest takeaways from the ‘COVID Normal’ roadmap revealed yesterday for residents of metropolitan Melbourne.

The First Step

Comes into play as of midnight on Sunday September 13.

Outside of the below, there are a number of restrictions that are unchanged, such as the 5km limit, the ability to only leave home for the four reasons of shopping for essentials, caregiving or seeking medical treatment, for exercise, or for work or education if you can’t do so from home. The shopping limit of one person per household per day also remains.

The “social bubble”

For the first time during the pandemic, a “social bubble” has been created that will see those living alone or those who are a single parent (with children under 18) permitted to invite one visitor to their home. This must be one nominated friend or family member that can visit you during the First Step and Second Step of the ‘COVID Normal’ roadmap, i.e. you are not able to invite your sister to your home on one occasion and invite your brother on the next occasion.

Increased exercise allowance

Prior to September 13 under the current restrictions, outdoor exercise has only been permitted for one hour per day in one sitting, however when the First Step comes into play, this will be increased to two hours, which can be split into a maximum of two sessions. This can be with one other person not in your household, or with any number of those that you live with.

Introducing recreation and public gatherings

A new recreational provision will be introduced that will see activities such as reading a book in the park or having a picnic permitted within your two hours of daily exercise. You are able to do this with one person outside of your household, or with any number of those that you live with.

Altered curfew

The curfew will be increased by an hour from 8pm-5am to 9pm-5am.

The Second Step

Will come into play after Monday September 28 and when daily new COVID-19 case numbers in metropolitan Melbourne have averaged between 30 and 50 for the previous 14 days.

Outdoor public gatherings

Outdoor public gatherings of up to five people are now permitted for social purposes so long that those participating are from a maximum of two households. Infants under 12 months are not included in the cap.

Outdoor pools reopen

As of the Second Step, outdoor pools will reopen with a cap on the number of visitors allowed, while personal training can now take place with up to two people.


During the Second Step, metropolitan Melbourne will engage in a staged return to onsite learning for school students. Prior to this, students were only able to engage in schooling remotely. The ABC have broken down the specifics of a return to school here.

The Third Step

Will come into play after Monday October 26 and when daily new case numbers across the state (not just metro Melbourne as in the Second Step) have averaged below five for the previous 14 days and that there are fewer than five cases with an unknown source at the time.

Curfew removed

The prior 9pm-5pm curfew will be removed altogether.

No restrictions on leaving home

As of the Third Step, there will no restrictions on reasons for leaving home while the 5km rule will also be lifted. This will mean that people of metropolitan Melbourne can travel regionally. If you wish to stay regionally, it must adhere to the “social bubble” explained in the First Step.

Outdoor public gatherings increased from five people to ten people

The outdoor public gatherings explained in the Second Step will be increased from five people to ten people.

“Household bubble” introduced

A household can nominate one other household to create a “household bubble” whereby up to five visitors are permitted to visit them from that other household. Infants under 12 months are not included in the cap.

Hospitality to reopen

Hospitality businesses will be allowed to reopen from the Third Step with a group limit of ten people for predominantly ‘outdoor seated service’.

Retail to reopen

Retail business will be able to reopen. Beauty and personal care services will remain closed but hairdressers can reopen.

Daily shopping cap removed

Shopping is no longer confined to one person per household per day.

Return of sport

There will be a staged return for outdoor non-contact sport for adults while both outdoor contact and non-contact sport will resume for under-18s.

Up to ten people for outdoor exercise

Before this, only two people were able to come together and exercise, however, as of the Third Step, ten people can come together for outdoor fitness.

Weddings and funerals increased

Weddings increase from up to five people allowed to ten people allowed (including the couple, two witnesses and the celebrant). Funerals are increased from ten people allowed to 20 people (not including infants under 12 months old or those conducting the funeral).

The Last Step

Will come into play after Monday November 23 and when there are no new cases across the state for the previous 14 days.

Outdoor public gatherings increased

Outdoor public gatherings will be increased from ten people to 50 people.

Home visitors increased

Up to 20 visitors at home will be allowed at a time – an increase from five visitors in the Third Step.

Indoor hospitality reopens

Hospitality venues can now operate indoor with a group limit of 20 people and a venue cap of 50 people. Outdoor dining will be subject to density quotient.

No restrictions on exercise

Restrictions will be removed as of the Last Step, with exercise facilities to open subject to safety measures. Organised contact sport will resume for all ages.

Weddings and funerals increased again

Weddings can now welcome up to 50 people; 20 if it is taking place in a private residence. Funerals also able to have 50 people and 20 if it is taking place in a private residence.

Accommodation allowed

Interstate travel will be allowed and accommodation will also be permitted.

Indoor and outdoor entertainment venues open

As long as they are abiding by the density quotient and patron caps, indoor and outdoor entertainment venues can be open. As of the Last Step, there will be a staged return to events with seated spectators while large events will be considered on an individual basis.

COVID Normal

Metropolitan Melbourne will move from the Last Step to COVID Normal if we reach no new cases for the previous 28 days (state-wide), no active cases (state-wide) and no outbreaks of concern in other states or territories. There is no particular time frame on this.

No restrictions but organisers/operators are encouraged to keep a record of attendees for: public gatherings, visitors to home, hospitality venues, weddings, funerals and community sport. Entertainment venues will also have no restrictions but they must adhere to necessary safety measures.

Phased return to work

Workers who have been working from home will be phased back into onsite work.

Find out more about the Victorian government’s ‘COVID Normal’ roadmap via this PDF.

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